- Feb 23, 1989
- London (England)
It is hard to believe that Courtney is still only 24-years-old. Over the past few seasons the local boy, raised within a stone's throw from Franklin's Gardens, has progressed to a level where he now indispensible not only to the Saints, but arguably England too.
While still in the Saints Senior Academy, he burst into the first team with a man-of-the-match performance against Montpellier. The habit of performing against opposition from across the Channel was soon picked up and French international scrum-halves Julien Tomas (Montpellier) and Morgan Parra (Bourgoin) both felt the power of the long arm of the Lawes.
After starring for the Saints in the early part of the 2009/10 season, Courtney was drafted into England's squad for the Autumn Internationals, making his national debut against Australia at Twickenham before securing selection on the tour to Australia and New Zealand.
This momentum was carried into the 2010/11 season, where his impressive form for the Saints meant he kept his place in the England squad. After making a second-row starting berth his own, Courtney was named the Autumn Internationals Man of the Series.
Injury denied him a spot in England's second row for the Six Nations triumph, but Courtney was able to channel those frustrations into his Saints return. His stand out contribution earned back-to-back man of the match awards against Sale and Ulster and the consistency saw him named in the ESPN Dream Team, as well as on the shortlist for RPA Young Player of the Season for a second consecutive season.
A first Rugby World Cup was disrupted by an unfortunate suspension and also ended in quarter final elimination for England, before Courtney returned to the Saints for his first appearance of the season against Saracens. Despite picking up a knock against Newcastle, Courtney remained almost a certainty when the England squad was announced ahead of the 2012 Six Nations.
Unfortunately, a leg injury and a freak elbow dislocation again cut short his international game time and kept Courtney out of action for the remainder of the campaign and into 2012/13.
This time his path back into the England squad was a far more taxing one, though having impressed in the black, green and gold and passed 100 appearances in the monumental win at Ulster in the proccess, Courtney was hard to ignore.
He was back involved over the Six Nations period, named in a 32-man squad to tour Argentina and a crucial part of a Saints side that reached a first ever Aviva Premiership Final.